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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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The Troops Do Not Die for Their Country


As I have repeatedly emphasized over the years, including in my article yesterday, “Trump’s Horrible Truth to the Soldier’s Widow,” U.S. troops who have been killed in Niger, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Vietnam, Korea, or other faraway places did not die to defend the rights and freedoms of the American people. That’s a lie, a lie that unfortunately is deeply embedded all across American society, including in churches.

There is a simple reason that it’s a lie: No one over there is invading the United States and trying to take away our rights and freedoms. Nonetheless, the lie persists, especially within the minds of the troops, who are indoctrinated into believing the lie starting with the first few days of boot camp.

It’s not the only lie associated with the deaths of U.S. soldiers in foreign countries. Another lie is the one that says that U.S. soldiers who get killed over there have died for their country.

Like the other lie, this lie is designed to make the families of the slain soldier feel okay about his death.

In reality though, U.S. soldiers who die in faraway lands have died for their government, not their country.

That notion shocks a lot of people. In their minds, the federal government is the country. They think that the government and the country are one and the same thing.

Actually, however, the government and the country are two separate and distinct entities, a phenomenon implicitly recognized by the first ten amendments to U.S. Constitution, the document which called the federal government into existence. The Bill of Rights expressly protects the country from the federal government, confirming the inappropriateness of conflating the federal government and the country within one’s mind.

If a foreign nation were to invade the United States, U.S. troops would be said to be defending their country. But no one is invading the United States. Instead, it is the U.S. government, operating through the troops, that is invading other countries.

Therefore, it stands to reason that U.S. troops who have died in Niger, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Vietnam, or Korea have not died for their country. They have died for their employer, the U.S. government, which has ordered them into those faraway lands to kill or be killed.

Of course, you’re not supposed to say such things even though they’re true. You’re supposed to utter  the lie. This is especially true with respect to the families of soldiers who have been killed in those faraway lands.

Consider, for example, the opening paragraph in an article in yesterday’s New York Times about the controversy over what Trump said to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of one of the soldiers recently killed in Niger:

People trying to express sympathy to the families of fallen troops say the wrong thing all the time. When Marine First Lt. Travis Manion was killed by sniper fire during the Iraq troop surge in 2007, one well-wisher told his family that it was “such a waste.” Another called it a shame for him “to die in vain like that.” (Emphasis added.)

Why is the “wrong thing” to speak the truth? It is a waste that U.S. soldiers died in Iraq. It is a fact that they died in vain. The same holds true for those 58,000 plus soldiers of my generation who got killed in Vietnam. And the 33,000 plus who got killed in Korea. It was all a waste of life. They all died in vain. None of them died for their country. None of them died defending our rights and freedom here at home.

But the belief is that if people can just be made to lie and, even better, be convinced that the lie is the truth, the soldier’s death will somehow become meaningful. With the lie, the soldier will now be considered to have died for his country and in the process of defending our rights and freedoms.

And people wonder why America has become a society riddled with drug addiction, alcoholism, and violence. It’s what the life of the lie does to any society.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.